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Scourge - Chapter 1
Skylar gazed thoughtfully out of her opened second story window as the sun painted the sky with streaks of goldenrod. She was an average seventeen year old of average height and an average disposition. In fact, she was basically just average overall. That didn’t discourage her from quietly loving her life. The edge of her lips turned into a soft smirk as she continued to watch the colors of the sunrise outside her window. Another day, another dollar, she thought. “Oh wait. I won’t be getting any dollars ‘cause I go to school”, she mumbled, ruffled her brows at the thought. She traced the streets with her eyes as she watched the Guild Apprentices getting ready to train for the day. Skylar crossed her arms on the window pane and let her face fall clumsily onto her wrist. “I wouldn’t mind school if I was an Apprentice,” she sighed. Suddenly, there was a knock at her bedroom door.
“Yo Skye, you in there?” a voice calmly asked. Skylar jumped from the sudden noise and smashed her head against the half-opened window. She squeaked and grasped the golden hair on her head with both hands.
“Son of a-Grrrr!” she screeched as she fell to the floor in pain.
“Oh God, what did you do?!” the voice yelled from behind the door. The knob turned and the door flew open as a tall young brunette teenager rushed in. “Skye, what the hell are you doing, we have to get ready!”
“Yeah, yeah, I know, Kate. Heaven forbid we miss the first day of school.” Skylar replied sarcastically. She grunted with effort as she pushed herself off of the fluffy carpet.
Kate held out her hand and pulled her friend up. “Knock off the attitude. We don’t want to make a bad impression. You know a new year means new boys to meet!” Kate grinned as she imagined the thought.
“Oh stop it, Kate. We both know that it’ll be the same idiots that we’ve always been in school with.” Skylar retorted bitterly, brushing the dirt from the floor off her shirt.
“Yeah, you’re right. But it doesn’t hurt to stay positive. You’re the one who always tells me to never give up hope.” Kate paused and stared straight into her best friend’s shiny cerulean eyes. “What is with you today? You’re never this negative.”
Skye glanced at her and gave a reassuring smile. “I’m sorry, Kate. I was just... Well...” Skylar stopped. It was obvious she wasn’t ready to admit what was wrong. She had always been pretty stubborn when it came to sharing emotions. “Well, I hoped we could get into the Guild this year.”
Kate sighed lightly. “Ya know that the Guild is only for Guardians.” She replied coolly. “I’m pretty sure we’re only Civilians. We have no hope of getting in.”
A grin melted onto Skye’s face. “Didn’t you just say to never give up hope?”
Kate chuckled. “Well, yah. But, like, we can’t even do all that magic mumbo-jumbo.”
“It’s not just magic, Kate! There are all sorts of things to do there!” Skylar replied quickly, almost seeming angry.
“Pfft, why do you know so much about it anyways?” Kate asked as she crossed her arms.
Skylar folded her hands silently. “I always had a feeling that we belonged in the Guild,” Skylar whispered, as she turned towards the window. At that moment, a breeze brushed her cheek and made her blonde hair dance like golden ribbons. Kate looked on at her best friend, wondering what she meant. As they both stood there, unmoving, Kate noticed Skylar’s eyes welling up with water.
“A feeling, eh?” Kate muttered, walking closer to her friend. As she placed her hand on Skylar’s shoulder, she looked out the window and said “Well, I’ll ask Mum if we can visit the Guild sometime, alright?”
Skylar looked up at her best friend and smiled through wet eyes. “Thanks, Kate. It would mean a lot to me.”
“Yeah, yeah, and ya do know I’m always looking out for ya” Kate replied, her sassy grin returning to her face. Both girls laughed for a while, looking out the open window casually.
“Well, let’s get going. Wouldn’t want to miss the first day of school!” Kate yelled out, darting from the room. Her head peeked around the door frame as she stood in the hall. “Oh, and make sure to dress warm, the breeze out there’ll cut ya to the bone!”
The breeze never bothered Skylar; she was naturally resistant to the cold for some odd reason. She decided to humor Kate, so she grabbed her favorite blue sweatshirt from its resting place on the desk next to the window. She walked toward the door, but hesitated before taking the last step out of the room. She whirled around and once again found herself looking out the window to the towering building that was the Guardian Guild. It really was beautiful, the way the entire building was covered in vines. Or maybe it was the scout towers on each corner. Heck, it was probably because it looked like a castle. Skylar smiled sadly.
“Maybe someday,” she mused, as she left the room.
After a few minutes, Skylar skipped down the stairs and turned left into the kitchen. Kate sat at the oak table on the far side, gobbling down a bowl of cereal sloppily. As Skylar trudged into the room, a short, black-haired woman shoved a plate of waffles into her hands.
“Make sure to eat well so you have plenty of energy for today, dear,” the woman smiled.
Skye nodded knowingly and replied blankly, “Thanks mom.”
“What’s the matter, honey? You’re usually so peppy in the mornings.” The woman asked with her brows raised.
“I’m just…thinking about a lot right now.” Skye grumbled as she surveyed the waffles in her hand.
“Yeah! She wants to join the Guild, mum!” Kate blurted out between chews, as bits of food flew out of her mouth and onto the worn table.
Skye flashed a glare of disapproval from across the room.
“Oh, the Guild! That’s wonderful!” The woman exclaimed, beaming. “Skylar, is this true?”
Skylar hesitated, and decided it was time tell her dear mother. She smiled sheepishly and replied, “Well, I wanted to see if I could join. Aren’t we…” Skye looked at Kate and back to her mom, “Aren’t we Citizens?”
Her mother let out a hearty laugh that made her shoulders rumble. “Skylar! I’ve told you a million times, I used to be a Warrior when I was your age.” She grinned from ear to ear.
Skye looked at her mother with a sudden look of horror glued to her face. “What…?” She mouthed, barely making noise.
The short woman’s smile almost instantly flashed to guilt. She glanced behind her at Kate, and when turning back to the wide-eyed girl in front of her, she calmly said, “Maybe I only told Kate. I’m sorry dear. You weren’t part of-” The woman paused abruptly and became more of a wreck as she tried to remedy the sentence she had begun. As she sat there awkwardly twiddling her thumbs, trying to explain why she hadn’t told Skylar about her time as a Warrior. Eventually, she gave up. “Regardless of my past, dear, you could try out to join the Guild if you really want. For me, the Guild was a lot more fun than Citizen School.”
“Thanks.” Skylar replied coldly, as she brushed past her mother’s shoulder. She set the waffles on the counter to her right, grabbed her blue and black stripped backpack from the kitchen chair, and walked out the door without uttering another word.
Once Skylar left the room, Kate turned her gaze from her cereal to her mother, who was staring at the space in front of her that was occupied only moments ago. “Do you think she knows, Mum?” Her voice suddenly became a whisper, as she leaned in the direction of her mom. “If she doesn’t... then... When are you finally gonna tell her?”
The short woman closed her eyes and took in a deep breath. “I just don’t know if any time would be the right moment, honey. Think about how you would feel if somebody told you that.”
“Well, you did tell me.”
“But it didn’t happen to you. She has the burden on her shoulders.” There was a prolonged pause as Kate’s mother shuffled towards the now-cold waffles sitting on the counter. She stared at them as though there was a hidden secret underneath the golden, fluffy exterior. “You better go after her, Katelyn. And make sure she eats something. You know how sick she gets on an empty stomach.”
“Leave it to me!” Kate exclaimed, hopping out of her seat and almost knocking over her cereal bowl. She snatched up her blood red backpack and the plate of waffles and scurried out of the door in a flash.
Just as Kate left the room, her mom whispered to herself. “No matter what happens... We will always be family.”
Running down the sidewalk, Kate finally caught view of Skylar trudging onto the public bus. As the bus prepared to leave, Kate screeched out, “Hold it! Wait, wait, wait!” She leapt into the bus and smiled at the elderly driver. “Sorry I’m late, Mrs. Reen.”
“Ohhh don't you worry, sweetie, that’s quite alright.” The driver replied through her denture-filled mouth. She closed one of her eyes and pointed at Kate. “I won’t leave without you after what happened last time.”
“Oh yeah.” Kate replied knowingly, rubbing the back of her head with her hand while recalling her latest shenanigan of running into a telephone pole while trying to catch up to the already-departed bus. “I still got a headache from that mess.”
Mrs. Reen adjusted her glasses, smiled, and looked back to the road as the bus began to creak to life. Kate bounded down to the end of the bus and sat with a plop next to Skye. She held the plate of waffles up to Skye’s nose and pushed it closer with every second. “Come on, Skyeeee. Mom says to eat your breakfast.” She teased.
Skye shoved the plate away and replied with a fat “No!”
Kate put her hand on her hip and tilted her head with a pout. “GURL, YOU BETTA EAT YO BREFFAST!” she screeched at the top of her lungs.
Instantly, everybody seated on the bus turned to watch the commotion. Skylar looked straight into Kate’s dark evergreen eyes, which were locked onto Skylar’s face intently. The longer Kate stared, the more her eyes slightly twitched. Suddenly, both girls burst out into uncontrollable laughter. The people on the bus turned away now that the confrontation was over.
“Okay, you got me,” Skylar giggled, with her hands held up in defeat. “I am STARVING.” She snatched up the waffles and shoveled them into her mouth, chewing loudly. Kate grinned from ear to ear as she saw Skylar’s eyes light up with every swallow.
“Oh, dude. I almost forgot.” Kate suddenly said. She held up her hand and said, “When I was running out the door after you, I saw that you forgot this on the counter at home. You know mom says you always gotta wear it.”
Skylar looked away from her plate of waffles and towards Kate’s outstretched hand. In it laid a bandage. It was as white as snow, but parts of the blizzard were blocked out by a blue vine-like pattern. It looked exactly like a bandage that could be used for a sprained ankle, except that the length of it was much smaller. Now that Skylar thought about it, the bandage seemed to wrap around her wrist perfectly, with no extra slack on the end. The colors of the vines were exactly the same as her eye color, too. Almost like it was made especially for her. Instinctively, Skylar glanced at her right wrist. She gasped quietly when she discovered it empty. She already knew it would be, though. Kate was holding it in her hands right now, for crying out loud. Skylar quickly seized the bindings and wrapped it around her bare wrist, and carefully fastened the clasps that were attached to the ends. Kate was always in awe at how quickly the ritual was carried out. She sometimes missed it if she blinked.
Skylar let out a thick sigh of relief. “I can’t believe I forgot it.”
“Oh, whatever. No harm done.” Kate answered bluntly.
Just then the bus screeched to a stop a block away from the Citizen School. Kate, suddenly chipper again, jumped up from her seat and ran out the door onto the sidewalk.
“Thanks, Mrs. Reen! Have a fantabulous day!” she exclaimed as she began to skip towards the school.
Compared to the Guardian Guild, the Citizen School seemed extremely bleak. It was essentially a grey brick box on a blank street corner. Even though it had a simple design, it looked like a clean building. A few short, green bushes lined the sidewalk leading to the entrance, and the door was about twice the size of a normal person.
Skylar, still seated on the bus, slowly stood up. Her bones seemed to creak with every step as she dragged on towards the door. Mrs. Reed gave her a soft smile and said, “Have a lovely day, sweetie.”
Skylar didn’t reply. She seemed to be in a trance as she tripped down to the sidewalk and trudged on towards the boring building in the distance.
Skylar shuffled down the sidewalk, her head lowered in thought. She had thoughts about her mother’s strange behavior, thoughts about joining the Guild, thoughts about forgetting her bandage at home. She never forgot her bandage. Her mom always reminded her to keep it on at all times, so why had she even taken it off in the first place? She frowned as she continued to stare at the ground. Then suddenly, she felt herself falling. The sidewalk slapped her face as her backpack flew over her head and landed in front of her, spitting out all of the contents.
“Urghhh,” Skylar grumbled, not even having the energy to yell out. Then she heard a soft chuckle coming from in front of her.
“Well, that certainly was graceful,” A voice laughed.
Skylar only heard the sarcasm, not the voice, so she replied with a hearty, “Oh, yeah, ‘cause you’re the expert on gracefulness, aren’t you?”
She tilted her head, which was still resting on the ground, up towards the voice, only to see a tall young man smiling down at her. He looked to be in his late teens, and his smile was flawless and sincere. His head was covered with short, fluffy brown hair, and his bangs forced one’s eyes to focus on his shining golden eyes. Those eyes. They were so bright and perfect that it seemed to reflect a soul that suffered no pain. On his left ear dangled a beautiful gold feather. He wore plain baggy jeans and a dark blue polo. An outfit way too simple for such a handsome guy, Skylar thought to herself.
He noticed Skylar’s mouth was wide open, and he laughed. “Yeesh, you’re making me feel like I’ve got a bug crawling all over my face.” He held out his hand and smirked. “Do you need any help?”
Skylar snapped out of her daydream abruptly. “Oh, oh. Sorry. It’s alright, though.” She pushed herself off the ground for the second time today, and turned towards her backpack on the ground. She saw the young man picking up the various notebooks that seemed to have exploded from her backpack. He was so fast that he was done packing away the various school supplies in a few seconds.
“Uh... Thanks for the help,” Skylar said, stumbling over the words. She smiled awkwardly as she reached for the backpack in the young man’s hands.
“Glad to be of help, Miss...” he raised his eyebrows as he waited for Skylar to fill in the blank.
“Skylar. My name is Skylar. But my friends sometimes call me Skye.” She answered shyly. “And...You are?” She held out her hand to show it was his turn to speak.
“Felix, at your service,” he answered, bowing cheerily as his sweet smile returned. “Are you always this clumsy, Skye? It’s lucky that I just happened to be passing by.”
“Oh, yeah, I can be clumsy sometimes,” Skylar answered, her voice fading into a distracted silence. She didn’t even remember tripping over anything, but it was obvious that something made her fall. She wasn’t the type to get caught up in her own footsteps. It was almost like an invisible leg had tripped her.
“Just try to be more careful next time, alright?” Felix said, breaking Skylar out of her trance.
“I’ll do my best.” She answered plainly.
Felix seemed pleased by this answer and waved goodbye. “It was real nice meeting you.” He said, turning around and beginning to walk down the worn sidewalk.
“Wait! Felix!” Skylar yelled down the street.
He stopped in his tracks and looked over his shoulder a moment before turning back around. “What’s the matter?” He asked as Skylar ran up to him.
“Where are you going? Aren’t you going to school?” She asked, her eyes glancing in the direction of the Citizen School.
He looked puzzled for a moment before answering. “Ah, I don’t go to Citizen School.” He replied, pointing behind him with his thumb. “I go to the Guild every day.”
Skylar’s eyes lit up with excitement, but she attempted to hide her enthusiasm. “You get to go to the Guild? That must be so much fun.” She found herself smiling gleefully.
He returned the smile and answered, “Yeah, it’s a whole lot of fun. Makes school less of a bore, and all that. You should really try to join! A new school year means new beginnings.”
Skylar seemed alarmed at the suggestion of joining, even though she had wanted to her whole life. It’s just that nobody ever encouraged her so openly and eagerly before. “You really think I would have a chance of making it in?” Her voice trembled with sudden uncertainty.
Felix could sense the worry in her voice, and his brows wrinkled up sadly. “Well, of course you’d make it! It’s definitely worth trying. As long as you do your best.” Felix reassured by giving her a thumbs-up and a quick wink.
“Thanks, no one has really told me that before,” Skylar admitted, blushing slightly and looking away for a moment at a nearby maple tree that stood next to the sidewalk.
“Anytime. I hope I see you soon in class then!” His face was as bright as the sun as he turned to leave once again. He began to walk down the shabby sidewalk, kicking loose pebbles as he passed them by. Skylar stood still in one place, thinking about his suggestion. Maybe I can swing by the Guild and grab an application on my way home, she thought. She was brought back to reality once again by Felix, who was waving one last time before he disappeared out of sight. She raised her hand to wave back, but had missed her chance as he rounded the corner. She found herself staring at where he once was, beaming gaily.
“New beginnings,” she hummed, turning around to face the bare school which was now in front of her. She began to walk towards the building, and quickly found out that she had a bounce to her step now.
“He’s right. It’s time to take a chance.” She smiled ear to ear now, looking ahead of her as she quickened her pace to a slight jog.
“It’s time for my new beginning!” She was sprinting now, barely paying attention to the scenery blurring past her vision.